The tears didn’t start when she thanked the women of our church for sending oodles of hand creams and girly items to the Alaska Women’s Conference.
When she told us how the Alaskan women were amazed that we cared enough to send lotions to strangers, the tears still didn’t come. They stayed bottled up in my tear ducts, even when she told us about the women in Nome who met Jesus for the first time, and who are finally living free of their past. Generational abuse, alcoholism and suicide run rampant in Alaska. But these women chose the freedom of Christ over the prison of their environment, backgrounds and circumstances.
They finally, slowly dripped down my checks when she told us about Mrs. Francis, a half white/half native 83 year old that she met in the Nome nursing home. She had been massaging Mrs. Francis’ legs, hands and face with the lotion we sent, listening to her stories of triumph and pain, and reading Mrs. Francis’ favorite scripture for her.
Silent, racking sobs shook my body when she said this: We wanted to go to the nursing home and sit with the ladies, listen to their stories and pray with them. We wanted to massage their hands, if they would allow us. Because there is such power in physical touch. It makes such a difference. And we all need that gentle, physical touch, don’t we?
Memories came flooding back. Mama in the hospital, after her stroke. She couldn’t speak or move her right side. But the expression in her deep blue eyes told us everything. Many times she would throw her left foot out from under the heavy hospital blanket, her brow furrowing in pain…or was it fear?
I asked if she wanted me to rub her feet with her favorite peppermint lotion. Mama’s eyes softened as she nodded “Yes.” I rubbed and massaged the lotion up and down her legs, gently moving her stiff right leg. She couldn’t say anything, but the quiet “ahhhhhhh” that came out of her mouth let me know she was enjoying the soft kneading of her muscles. Her frown line relaxed.
My love for her flowed through the lotion on my hands. That physical touch had to communicate my feelings to her. Mama couldn’t speak because of the stroke; I couldn’t speak because the lump in my throat wouldn’t allow words to pass.
I always wondered if that small act of service had made a difference in my Mama’s last days. After hearing the story of Mrs. Francis, I knew God was telling me that yes, it had. Anytime you are the hands and feet of Jesus, it makes a difference.
I think I might make it to Nome one January for the AK Missions Women’s Conference. Because a loving touch from caring hands is powerful. Because the forgotten women in America’s last frontier deserve a little pampering. They deserve to have someone listen to their stories of triumph through unspeakable pain. Their stories of living free in Christ deserve to be told. Any of you bloggers and writer’s want to join me? Instead of Compassion Bloggers, we could be Alaskan Bloggers!
“Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions.” 1 John 3:18 (TLB)
Until next week,
Linking up with these lovely writers:
Suzie Eller, Live Free Thursday
Susan at Dance with Jesus
Barbie at The Weekend Brew
Kelly at Purposeful Faith
Holly at Testimony Tuesday
Holley at Coffee for Your Heart
Jennifer at Tell His Story